The all-time most cited CBS scientific paper is…….

First published in 2006, Keld Laursen and Ammon Salter’s paper, ‘Open for innovation: The role of openness in explaining innovation performance among U.K. manufacturing firms’ is the all-time most cited CBS scientific paper.


Professor Keld Laursen and Professor Ammon Salter 

The groundbreaking paper from 2006 is now regarded as a pioneering study in the early days of open innovation research and acknowledged as a key linchpin in the evolution of the open innovation literature and today appears on numerous syllabi of graduate courses in technology strategy.

“Ammon and I had a feeling that this paper was special. I remember when Ammon called me up while I was at a conference in Groningen in the Netherlands, it was pouring down, and he told me that the paper had been accepted for the Strategic Management Journal. That was my first paper in an A+ journal. We started at the top in management research, and it has meant a lot to my career to have made a total research blockbuster,” says Laursen. 

To celebrate the achievement Keld explains why the paper remains as relevant and important for strategy and innovation management today as when it was first published.

“The paper remains relevant and important today for at least two reasons. Firstly, in 2003, Henry Chesbrough, UC Berkeley, in his book coined “open innovation” and this paper was the first to establish — based on an analysis of a large-scale dataset — that being open to external sources of innovation matters positively for firms’ innovation output.

Having ideas from external sources can be more valuable than just using internal ideas and a combination of both can lead to better innovation results. The level of openness of a company is measured by how many external sources they use for innovation. Examples of these sources are customers, suppliers, competitors, consultants, and research institutions.

Companies that use many external sources at the same time are considered to have a high level of openness. This finding has been replicated in numerous other papers published in high-quality academic journals. In short: Having an open approach to innovation is good for a firm’s innovation process.

Secondly, for a company to benefit from external sources of innovation, it needs to invest in working with those sources. Each source has different norms, rules, and practices, which can lead to significant costs for the company. For example, working with a private research laboratory often involves a different process of exchange than working with a university, including different contractual rules, norms of disclosure and cultural attitudes.

However, a company's internal capacity to process knowledge may limit its ability to utilise external knowledge. When taken together, the arguments we make in the paper led us to predict an inverted u-shaped relationship between the firms’ level of openness and its innovation output.

In simple terms: It is good to have an open approach to innovation, but only up to a point. A very high level of openness will be detrimental to innovation output. This point remains important as it implies that firms need to prioritise which external sources, they work with to maximise the benefits of open innovation.”

To read the paper click here.

The page was last edited by: President's Office // 02/10/2023